Toughie 1172 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1172

Toughie No 1162 by Petitjean

It doesn’t 5 down!

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ****Enjoyment **

A frustrating crossword. I did over half of it with no effort and thought it was going to be a one- or two-star difficulty puzzle. Then I started having problems though for most clues I could see what the answer must be but couldn’t unravel the wordplay. Last week I commented that it was nice not to have any tricky four-letter answers. I wish I could say the same this week. I didn’t particularly enjoy the time spent sorting out the last few answers. Because of this I upped the difficulty rating and lowered the enjoyment rating

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


1a    Boring youngster giving up drink (6)
{POTEEN} Boring + a youngster over the age of 12 = illicitly distilled whiskey. I spent ages trying to justify SOLEMN as the answer

5a    Vintage recording group without repertoire (8)
{CASSETTE} A group (social class) round a repertoire (items performed by a singer or band at a concert)

9a    Now ‘Ma’ could be ‘Mistress‘ (5,5)
{FANCY WOMAN} The second word is an anagram of NOW MA and the first word is an anagram indicator

10a    Lincoln’s dreary opening not exactly stirring (4)
{ABED} A shortened version of President Lincoln’s first name + the first letter (opening) of Dreary

11a    4×4’s ornate trim (4-4)
{FROU-FROU} An anagram (ornate) of FOUR FOUR = elaborate trimmings, eg frills. I didn’t know this word

12a    Dislike game taking time? Don’t start! (6)
{HATRED} Game (a wild animal hunted for sport) round T (time) + D (first letter of Don’t)

13a    Voice / pipe (4)
{VENT} 2 meanings. I agonised for ages over this one before deciding that the answer I had was probably right. I don’t find either of the definitions totally convincing

15a    Highly desirable editor of Loaded (2,3,3)
{TO DIE FOR} An anagram (loaded) of EDITOR OF. I’m not keen on ‘loaded’ as an anagram indicator

18a    Missing inevitable conclusion arrest was bungled in film (4,4)
{STAR WARS} An anagram (bungled) of ARRST WAS (ARREST WAS with the last letter of inevitablE removed)

19a    Where archaeologists may be found day and night? (4)
{DIGS} 2 meanings: excavations made by archaeologists/lodgings where they may spend the night

21a    A second-hand mobile previously diverted (6)
{AMUSED} A + ‘second-hand’ after M (mobile)

23a    Cher’s perversely suppressing appreciation for music study (8)
{RESEARCH} An anagram (perversely) of CHER’S round an appreciation for music

25a    Fellow in easy street lacking any way to turn (4)
{COVE} Another one that took ages to sort out. Take a word that means easy-street (as in live in ******) and remove L and R (left and right, i.e. any way to turn). There are many possible words that fit _O_E. In such cases I think the setter should give an fairly easy clue with wordplay that’s obvious. Otherwise it borders on the unfair

26a    Space travellers do tiresome rubbish (10)
{METEOROIDS} An anagram (rubbish) of DO TIRESOME

27a    Trim back ditch again (8)
{RETRENCH} It could be taken to mean ‘to put in a ditch for a second time’

28a    Run round after belted hero in the ring (6)
{TORERO} R (run) O (round letter) follows ‘belted (moved very fast)’ to give someone seen in a bullring


2d    Where some talk and some walk without a care (2,3)
{ON AIR} Where some talk (in a radio programme) and some walk without a care (walking ** ***)

3d    Frenchman getting up to box noble fight (9)
{ENCOUNTER} A reversal of a French male forename goes round a noble

4d    US gateway in North East with key round-the-clock banks (6)
{NEWARK} It was fairly obvious that this was the answer but it took me a long time to justify it. The name of a US airport = NE (North East) + W (with) + A (key) + RK (first and last letters of Round-the-clocK)

5d    What a diver with eczema might do to make the grade (4,2,2,7)
{COME UP TO SCRATCH} A diver might rise to the surface in order to take action to alleviate the symptoms of eczema

6d    Tabloid’s had European cover (8)
{SUNSHADE} The name of a tabloid newspaper + ‘S + HAD + E (European)

7d    Fell over having caught heel of boot to be precise (5)
{EXACT} A reversal of ‘to fell’ + C (caught) + T (last letter of booT)

8d    The One Show tune, perhaps (5,4)
{THEME SONG} A signature tune either for a TV show or an individual performer

14d    Heading off some expert hopelessly unprepared (9)
{EXTEMPORE} An anagram (hopelessly) of OME EXPERT (SOME EXPERT with the first letter removed)

16d    Aim an overdue shot (9)
{ENDEAVOUR} An anagram (shot) of AN OVERDUE

17d    Bad actor tackling Noddy oddly an odd-jobber (8)
{HANDYMAN} A bad actor round the odd letters of NoDdY + AN

20d    Pope’s cortege includes bodyguard (6)
{ESCORT} Hidden in Pope’s cortege

22d    Exercise control over / beef producer (5)
{STEER} 2 meanings: exercise control over/beef producer

24d    Sounds like the end for computer expert (5)
{CODER} A homophone of a musical term for a passage forming the completion of a piece

I didn’t find it a very satisfying puzzle. Did I get out of the wrong side of bed this morning?

23 comments on “Toughie 1172

  1. I can’t argue with you! I needed your parsing of 25A, but I did rather enjoy 9A. My thanks to Bufo, and Petitjean too. :-)

  2. Bit of a curates egg for me, I didn’t like 25a but I did like 1a 5d and 11a thanks to Petitjean and to Bufo for the comments.

  3. I enjoyed this one very much. A couple took me a while to parse, in particular 4d and 25a, and I also wanted to put solemn for 1a with the checking letters in place.
    3*/4* for me. Thanks to Petitjean, and to Bufo for the review.

  4. Totally agree regarding 25 ac, I don’t think this is a fair clue at all. Shame– it spoilt an otherwise enjoyable effort. Favourite has to be 5 dn. Thanks to Bufo and some to PJ.

  5. I do so agree with you! The 4 letter words were most unfair and 1a not brilliant.

    The only highlight was 9a. Definitely this crossword did not 5 down!

  6. This was Petitjean in Thursday mode. Even with the dreaded 25a which took the longest time and muttering to sort out, I finished this much quicker than the back pager (the latter remaining the puzzle which took me the longest time (out of 7 cryptics solved) today.

    Thanks to PJ and Bufo.

  7. I completed the grid without hints and for the greater part was able to parse correctly so I am very pleased about that because I usually have trouble with Petitjean. It was slow going though. I did like 11a and 25A which I thought were very clever. 5D raised a smile. Thanks to Petitjean and to Bufo for the review.

  8. As a newcomer to the toughie, I am quite pleased with having completed three quarters of it before resorting to Bufo’s help. Still stumped on 25a! Loved 5d. Ashamed for not having spotted that 11a was an anagram of four four – giving a French word I am familiar with, oops! So for me it was a ***** difficulty and a *** for enjoyment. Thanks to Petitjean and Rufo for the review.

  9. Mostly an enjoyable puzzle and I agree, but for the two totally unfair clues at 13 and 25 across , should have been a two star difficulty rating .

    I also didn t help matters , despite knowing I had the right answer for 2 down (which the blog confirmed) I got stuck with the idea that the anagram indicator in 9 across was “other” Shame because once U got it, it became my favourite clue in the whole puzzle

    1. You weren’t the only one who went at first down the ‘other’ road for the first word of 9a.

  10. Got to this late but agree with most of the comments made earlier, 13 and 25a just didn’t do it for me, however I did enjoy the remainder especially 9a,11a and 5d. Thanks to Petitjean and Bufo for a terrific review.

  11. Hang on a minute here. I would have thought that the return of a setter assumed to be retired, or at least long-term resting, could have merited a “nice to see you back”-sort of comment. Well it’s nice to see you back PJ and I enjoyed this a lot.
    Then we seem to have a suggestion that because a clue [25a] is “hard” and its checking letters are common then it’s unfair. I don’t recall that criticism being applied to some other setters [and rightly so]. Man up chaps & chapesses! In any case what is “hard” about a clue that [IMHO perfectly straightforwardly]] asks for L and R to be removed from “easy street” to leave “fellow”.

    I’m with Stan, Jezza and Framboise- best clues:
    9a & 15a- well hidden anagrind and fodder
    11a – ditto, plus it conjures up a lovely image of Mrs Beckham’s pimped-up Range Rover [The Evoque]
    2d and 8d.

    Many thanks to PJ and to Bufo.

    1. Petitjean returned on 18/03 with Toughie 1154 so he’s already been welcomed back. He’s one of my favourite Toughies setters and, like you, I enjoyed this one.

    2. Just to echo what gazza has already said, Petitjean is one of my favourite setters too; and in my opinion consistently produces above average puzzles. Keep them coming PJ, or JP.. I thoroughly enjoy every one of them!

  12. Sorting out 25a and deciphering the wordplay for 4d were the last pieces of the puzzle to yield. A good chuckle with 5d that went in easily enough and gave lots of checkers. We enjoyed it.
    Thanks Petitjean and Bufo.

  13. I don’t think 25a was unfair; in fact it was a contender for my favourite clue. All in all l found this a tough-ish Toughie – about 3.5*/3* – and thank Petitjean for setting the challenge. Thanks too to you, Bufo, although l get the distinct impression you have had “one of those days”.

  14. When it comes to toughies, I don’t see any clue as being unfair. Some are simply more challenging than others. If I can’t resolve it, which is sometimes the case, I blame me, not the setter. I am grateful to all the DT cryptic and toughie setters. I couldn’t do what they so consistently do, which is tease my brain into thinking outside the box. and in doing so enrich my experience. Long may they continue to entertain and sometimes baffle us. W would be the poorer without them.

  15. Petitjean is very much one of my favourite setters, too, which is why I saved this puzzle to do later. It really is good to have this setter back!

    This has a **** rating for enjoyment from me. 5d, was my fave, but I have also marked others for special mention, including 11a, 23a, 5d, 6d, 8d and 22d.

    I had trouble with the two four-letter clues, 13a and 25a. Regarding fairness, I agree with Expat Chris on this. ‘The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars but in ourselves…’ I needed the explanation of my answer to 28a, and I blush to say I had to have electronic help to find the word for 1a. Having discovered it, however, there was no problem parsing it.

    Thank you very much, Petitjean, for a most enjoyable puzzle. And thank you very much, too, Bufo, for your excellent review.

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